I didn’t see it coming–the re-release of Disney’s “The Lion King” was number one at the box office its opening weekend in late September. It already had its run in theaters in 1994 and has been out on video for years. Why would people go to theaters to see it yet again?
Converting this classic to 3D was apparently the perfect draw to get people to see it yet again–not that they needed an excuse. After all, “The Lion King” is the all time top-grossing hand-drawn film, making $328.5 million domestically and $788.2 million worldwide–and that does not include the re-release figures. It’s been 17 years since it was in theaters, which means there’s a new generation of kids who have never seen it (or barely remember it) on the big screen.
The re-release in theaters is helping to promote the Diamond Blu-Ray DVD, which goes on sale October 4. When I received a pre-release DVD in the mail to review, I sat down with my family to watch. I had forgotten how much I loved the soulful, Oscar-winning songs written by Elton John and Tim Rice for the film. I had also forgotten how engaging the story is– love, tragedy, triumph, and the “circle of life.” Reliving it, I thought, “No wonder it packed the theaters yet again.”
“The Lion King” was inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The anthropomorphic animals around Africa’s pride lands celebrate the birth of Simba, son of King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi. As kingdoms tend to do, this one ferments an usurper–Scar, Mufasa’s younger brother.
Mufasa is the strong leader of the Pride Lands, a lion whose royalty runs deep and pure. Scar sets up the king’s death in a stampede and convinces Simba his carelessness is responsible for killing him. Grief-stricken, Simba exiles himself from the Pride Lands, leaving Scar to take over.
The comedic meerkat, Timon, and his warthog pal Pumba take Simba into their care, teaching him the “no worries” lifestyle of “hakuna matata.” Simba’s childhood friend, Nala, comes looking for him and convinces him to return to the Pride Lands to reclaim his father’s kingdom, which is floundering under Scar’s corrupt rule.
“The Lion King” is one of those movies we will never be done with. Good and evil clash; truth and beauty prevail; the circle of life continues; all with state-of-the-art computer animation and Oscar-winning music. It’s a full entertainment package.